Wednesday, 29 February 2012

LEAP AWAY - Free Stuff!

There has been a battle raging between head and heart the past few days.

Head: You haven't made it it ages
Heart: But it brings back so many happy memories, I remember the day I wore it to...
Head: Stop! The pattern's cut in a 12 - you were that size waaay before yesterday - you have the memories, that's enough.
Heart: But look at this one, I just might
Head: No you won't. If you haven't done it by now, you never will.
Heart: This one then - it's really gorgeous.
Head: Forget it with your hips
Heart: This one's designer, I should keep it.
Head: (Last word) It's just not your style. Let someone else have it who'd look good in it.

And so the head won! It wasn't easy, but here are the GIVEAWAY patterns. There are 5 options:

COLLECTION 1: Uncut, unused, never even taken out of the envelopes. All Vogue. Clockwise from top left -
Collection 1
V7854, sizes 14,16,18, tunic with princess seams and side slits

V8499, sizes 14-20, Marcy Tilton loose fitting skirt and pants

V8307, sizes 14-20, Asymmetrical collar jacket and coat

V8676, sizes 14-20, Marcy Tilton unlined jacket

COLLECTION 2: Vogue Designer patterns, used, cut to a 14.

V1112, Lynn Mizono, sizes 8-14, shirt and pants, only shirt cut

V1134, Anna Sui, sizes 8-14, ankle length dress with gathered neckline. cut

V1142, Issey Miyake, sizes 14-20, loose fitting pleated top and pants with front overlay, only top cut

V1689, Lauren Sara, sizes 14,16,18, evening maternity dress, sleeved version cut

Collection 2

COLLECTION 3: Vintage, late 1980s - early 1990s, mixture of pattern companies, all used and cut to 12. But I know some of you out there crave this era and with your skills and imagination can turn these into wonderful garments.

 Style 4860, size 12, three skirts variations with side pockets, straight skirt only cut,

Style 4904, size 12, double-breasted shirt dress with pleats and BIG shoulder pads. Cut.

Vogue 1944, sizes 14-18, five skirt variations, straight version only cut.

Style 1526, size 12-16, bias cut sun-dress, fitted bodice, either halter neck or straps and full skirt. Strap dress cut.

Vogue 9932, sizes 8-12, tunic with straight skirt or gored and flared skirt, cut.

Collection 3

COLLECTION 4: Mixed dress patterns, mixed companies, styles, condition and eras.

Collection 4
New Look 6862, sizes 10-22, sleeveless dress with short or long jacket. Uncut.

Vogue 9782, sizes 14-18, Flapper style dress with pullover tunic. Tunic only cut to 14

Vogue 7917, sizes 12-16, very easy close fitting dress, long version has fish-tail back. Long version cut to 14.

Butterick 5030, sizes 8-14, six variations of flared wrap dress, can use cotton or linen. Cut to 14.

Collection 5

COLLECTION 5: Accessories Patterns.

Vogue 8466, four shoulder bags. Bottom right only cut.

Vogue 8405,  six hats, uncut, no sizing.

So in celebration of the extra day this Leap Year, I'm handing over these precious and well loved patterns to a better home where they will be equally cherished and possibly even made.

Choose one (or more) of the collections by number. Leave a comment with the collection number(s) you'd like to have to call your own. Names will be randomly selected on 7th March, one week from today, and posted here. Via e-mail we can sort out the posting between us.

Anonymous entrants are also very welcome to make a selection, but you'll have to send me an e-mail address in case you're a winner.

No matter where you live (as long as it's on earth) please enter you name - I'll post to anywhere.

Good luck

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Got a few things lined up for the coming weeks.

Hotpatterns e-mailed yesterday to say my Boyfriend jeans pattern was shipped - hooray!

I also ordered a pinstripe denim that I hope will arrive soon bought on ebay. I've already got the zip and rivets, thread and scraps for pockets so I'll be ready to go on this one. Just not too sure if the boyfriend fit is my thing - I usually like fitted and tight - but we'll see.
Have you ever made a garment because it was in fashion only to discover it just doesn't suit you? 

Vogue were having a clearance pattern sale a few weeks ago and I couldn't resist. What I did find a little off putting was that many of the patterns I already own were in the clearance pile - oh dear. Anyway when I bought my first stash in January it came with a few free cottons (because I bought so much) I just love America!. One of the fabrics was a checked turquoise that really isn't my thing but it was free - so what the heck? I picked up this reprint of a 1953 dress, just to see. 

This one is still in the will I, won't I category. Partly because I'm not sure there is enough fabric, but I figure I could narrow that full skirt down a bit to make it fit, and again my hips in a full skirt - yuk!
I love the bodice though.
If there's not enough of the cotton what do you think of home decorating fabrics? They're wide, patterned and relatively cheap. 
Have you ever made a dress or skirt from curtain fabric? I'd love to know how it wears. I get the impression it'll wrinkle like mad.

In the meantime I've bought an extremely expensive navy wool crepe for this little beauty (also in the clearance bin sale). Do I like things that nobody else does? There's only one review on Pattern Review too for this, so obviously not a favourite of the sewing public.
Dress is cut and sewn and inserted the zip this evening. The pattern calls for an invisible zip but my local shop did not have any 22" navy invisible zips! Oh the hassle of living in a small place. I purchased a normal one and made a lapped zipper. Interesting exercise. I'm aiming for another Mad Men look, so lapped zippers are in keeping with the era. I lengthened the dress by 9". Yes that's 9", for  a 2" hem. 

Pics soon of the progress on this. And don't forget the pattern GIVEAWAY this week - stay tuned.

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Saturday, 25 February 2012


At the beginning of this week the man from the telephone company was coming to install Infinity - a super fast broadband connection thingy. 

Not really my room, but mine looks just as bare
The BOX for the house that the wires go into is in my sewing room.... so I had to pack everything up; collapse the ironing board, put the machine in her cover and set aside, fold the gate-leg table down, unplug the iron, and so on until the BOX was easily accessible for the man. We also disconnected internet so that the man would have less to do when he got here.

He turned up on Monday as per the schedule only to tell us that there was fault in another BOX out on the main road and he couldn't fit the new BOX or wires until the fault was fixed. 

A trillion (or two) phone calls later, and another man was coming out on Wednesday. It wasn't worth unpacking the sewing equipment, I could wait another day or two.

Yada Yada Yada........

Eventually, on Friday another a man arrived. He put in a new BOX and connected the red wire to the blue wire and removed the green wire - waved a magic wand -  and thankfully everything is working.

So this is my excuse for not sewing or blogging this week - no sewing room and no internet. I've been managing to read a few blogs during the week at work but that's it and I think I am in withdrawal. AHHHHHH.

Today I unpacked everything again and it was a chance to sort through and tidy. All those scraps that are too small to make anything with went to recycling and I folded the stash, put pins in their boxes, filed away all the patterns that seem to materialise all on their own, found the individual pattern pieces that escape when my back is turned and put them in their rightful envelopes. So this evening all is well with the world.

In lieu of lack of sewing - this is a sewing blog after all - I thought I'd metaphorically run around for you and bring back some good news. So here are the connections you should check out:

The oft ignored and definitely in the minority but extraordinary men of the sewing blogs: they put me to shame! there's not that many of them but the design and work they produce more than makes up for sheer numbers.

Don makes the most amazing clothes and amazing accessorising to boot.

Jeans at TaylorTailor: and fabulous selvedge denim fabric.
Just right boys' gear by Jason

Not of course forgetting darling Peter and Cathy, or Paco, or the infrequent but startling postings by Scorpionblue, and one last one for today - mainelydad - jacket, coats and shirts oh my!

There's not much going to coming out of my sewing room for a few weeks as I get wound up again after my forced respite. I've purchased some patterns and more fabric, so I'm looking forward to receiving these in the post soon. And if you haven't guessed yet from the links above - it includes denim!

As part of my tidy up and clear out I came across some patterns that I don't think I'll ever make, so be prepared for a GIVEAWAY soon  too.

Thanks for your patience and for reading. Ruth

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Fairy Tales

Opting for easy, quick and casual garments at the moment the next thing on the agenda was a skirt. Once again, picking up a Paco pattern - the simplicity yet great design - I choose the half-circle skirt. Two pieces! Front and back (same piece) and a waistband. Cut on the bias this skirt has excellent drape and is designed for fluid, drapey knits such as jersey. But alas, no fluid, drapey jersey in the stash but a slightly weird Little Red Riding Hood cotton print. There's the girl herself and a wolf (of course) and a rabbit holding up a sign that points the way to "Granny's" all on a pale grey/taupe background. I can't decide if the rabbit is a goody or a baddy.

As an experiment I wanted to test the pattern with a cotton: thinking of summer and picnics on the lawn, sitting on a red gingham blanket with a wicker basket full of food, while the children played happily in the sunshine, laughing and giggling and running barefoot through the daisies; the flower beds in full and glorious colour bloom; butterflies flitting between the sun beams; birds singing sweetly in the boughs above our heads, the bright, fresh green leaves of the old oak tree providing dappled shade - oh wait..... I was in a fairytale there for a minute.

While the cotton certainly does not have the drape of a jersey, it didn't turn out too badly. Quilters beware! I may have to do this again in some of your wonderful fabrics!

Shorter version, without underskirt
With underskirt and twirling

 I cut the shorter length - limited by width yet again - but had fabric left over. Instead of lining the skirt I made an underskirt with a panel of Red Riding Hoods around the hem. This underskirt is separate, acts like a lining and the extra hemline panel adds extra length to the skirt too. One skirt, two lengths!

The underskirt has the effect of tulle as well, so the skirt sits slightly away from the body.

There's no doubt that a swirly full skirt makes you feel more feminine and girly. I've obviously been reading too much of We Sew Retro lately. Look, I even got out the baking book - appropriately named How to be a Domestic Goddess, by Nigella Lawson.

Cupcakes with pink icing, gooey chocolate cake, adoring smiles from my loving family, the smells of home baking wafting though our happy and contented home - whoops, fairytale land again!

I did empty the dishwasher though.

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Friday, 17 February 2012


You may remember my disaster with grain-lines over Christmas and the wasted rib knit fabric that didn't make it into a long Burda cardigan.... but did make it to the bin! I salvaged a bit and had a bit left over - just enough for a more substantial kimono wrap top to suit this time of year.

I lengthened the sleeves all the way to wrist this time. As a bulkier knit than the first version tying the wraps in a knot also feels bulky, so I fastened the front with a decorative pin. Makes it into a dressier look too.

I've tried to brighten the pictures as much as possible so you can see the ribs in the charcoal knit and the lovely patterns they make when crossed over.

As this was the second time making the pattern, this wrap top was made in under 2 hours. I reckon if you are lucky enough to have a serger (overlocker) you could shave another 30-40 mins off.

You know, one of the best things about this pattern is you don't need to wear anything underneath because the wraps are so 'wrappy'.

It is mega secure too - no shifting about when you move either and no constantly pulling the wraps together at the front.

How many wraps tops can you say that about?

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Somewhere over the Rain........

Now that I've subliminally planted that ear-worm here are some pics to go along with it.

McCalls 6247

Rainbow Missoni (not real) knit from stash

2yds but only 45" wide - damn that stash!
So no sleeves, but nice yoke detail at the back.

Oh and I added a draped collar thing from another pattern. I didn't realise how sheer and un-fluid this was until I saw these photos.

I don't even know if this type of garment has a name...
Sleeveless cardigan?
Long waistcoat (vest)?
SF top? (stash fabric)

I would wear this on the yacht in the summer but ours is in the ship yard this year being remodelled and having a helipad fitted - bummer huh? Just when I have the perfect cover-up for my itsy-bitsy bikini?

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Sunday, 12 February 2012

3 Cheers for 3 Hours Past....

Burda Style Magazine 2012
The next item to be sacrificed from the stash was the fine ivory knit. I was planning on a ballerina-at- practice type of wrap cardigan. While I neither have the poise or the body (I put it down to genetics) I thought one of those would look good with a swirly skirt and even high waisted trousers (pants) in spring / summer.  I don't do sleeveless even in 36 degrees C, especially in 36 degrees, and this would be just right as a cover up. I found a pattern in Burda Style Magazine - YIKES - lines and colours and A B C D sheets and tracing and time and .... oh just forget it. I am basically lazy and couldn't be bothered with all that crap.

However, there was not a pattern out there in whole wide world that met with my stringent requirements so I was gearing up to do the tracing thing - went into training and all - when Stephanie from 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World posted about a little 1950s Advance 7701 pattern for a kimono wrap top that she'd been working on. I was so jealous - this was exactly what I wanted, but how to get my grubby little hands on it?

I retired to the hollowed out volcano to devise a plan. I developed a behavioural-neural influencing ray and set the coordinates for Brisbane, specifically at Stephanie's house. And it worked!

Not long after I zapped her with the ultra-infra-high-frequency-thingy-that only dogs can hear, she transposed the 1950s pattern into her own design and created a pattern that we all can have. I made her stay up for a whole week so that she could finish it in time for my sewing schedule this weekend. She didn't sleep or eat or cook dinner until this beautiful wrap top pattern was complete. And the funny thing is, she thinks she did this all of her own choice. Ha Ha Ha. Ha Ha!

I got first pick (of course, that was part of the grand plan) at the pattern on Friday as a proof reader and tester.

The instructions are clear, ordered with just the right amount of personality that proves that a real person designed this for other real people. Stephanie included photos at various steps throughout which proves she has made and tested the design too - so knows the pitfalls and areas to watch. She gives fabric amount and width, even the sewing needles you should be using - sooo considerate.

It is a downloadable pattern in 24 sheets (plus the instructions) and I could just about manage that - but there's only three pieces - it's really no big deal. I tiled and lined up the sheets, taped them together and cut out. The top is really made from one big piece (cut twice), a neck band and the ties are separate so that you can choose a wrap or a draped version. Two patterns in one - I love that.
Right, now on to this stash thing.

It really isn't working for me. I had this fine knit just sitting waiting to be used - 2yds - plenty you would think, BUT, it's only 50" wide! Maybe I should read the small print. For this top I need
1 3/4 yds at min 55" wide. I was undeterred and determined. I marked out the bias grain line and used that instead of the straight or cross-grain lines. That way I could get the one big piece to fit onto the fabric albeit diagonally.

From then on everything proceeded as per the instructions and today's plan. Unfortunately, I do have to stop for lunch and messages (errands) and other stuff, but best guess is this took 3 hours maximum to complete. 
I deviated slightly from the instructions on the following points: Added tape to the neck edge to stabilise it - remember I cut on the bias. Lengthened the ties - the pattern is for a 30" waist, and I don't have a 30" waist. I  also slip stitched the neckband in place as I'm a big scardy chicken when it comes to stitching in the ditch. I made the bracelet length sleeves.
I have a very basic Janome sewing machine and normally I only use the straight stitch, the zig-zag and the button hole. Today I tested another one and created a little fancy edge thing to the sleeves. I don't have an overlocker (serger) so I zig-zagged all the raw edges of this knit to stop the unravelling.
I said this was a fine ivory knit, what I should have said was that this is a VERY fine ivory knit. Regardless - here is it and don't I look just like a ballerina (retired). Paired with Paco's half-circle skirt for extra ballerina styling

The back (obviously)
Wrapped around waist and tied in front

Tied at the back

Pulled down over hips
 There's more than one way to wear this top too.

Designed by 3 Hours Past
Takes 3 hours to make
Wear it 3 ways

I say 3 cheers for Stephanie!

To get your own pattern for this super kimono wrap top to go Craftsy.
And to read about the trials and tribulations this girl went through go here.

Thanks for reading. Ruth